N.J. ACLU Seems Uninterested in State's Racist Firearm Permitting Practices

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

The last few months I’ve been breaking several stories about issues with New Jersey’s permit-to-carry application process and standards of approval/denial. In April, I reported on the excessive delays applicants have had to suffer, some upwards of 1000 days in pre-Bruen filings. 


In May, we learned that Black applicants are denied at a rate more than double that of their white counterparts – specifically under subjective eligibility standards. 

In June I looked into whether or not the Attorney General was seeking to fix the issues, and further learned that he’s complicit in allowing these civil rights violations to occur. I reached out to the N.J. ACLU about this, and a couple of weeks ago I heard back.

The biggest and most egregious statistic that we found was the Black denial rate being more than twice what it is for white applicants. We can have a discussion about the racial disparity that we already see in our penal and judicial system, and why the Black denial rate might be 250% of the white rate. However, even when looking at a subjective standard, one that’s been outlawed by NYSRPA v. Bruen, we still see a denial rate more than double in Black applicants over white.

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin’s press office and his personal office have been contacted about the civil rights violations uncovered through this process. Every time the office responds by saying they decline to respond. There’s no hiding behind whether or not these usurpations of people’s rights are known. Platkin has been put on notice and has acknowledged each piece of correspondence sent.

Attorney General Matthew Platkin is aware of the bigotry in the permitting system, the illegal use of subjective standards in the application process, and the illegal excessive delays on issuance or denial of permits.


Since finding no relief from the Attorney General, I contacted the New Jersey chapter of the ACLU about my findings. When I wrote to them and shared my data via giving them links to the work as well as explanations, I thought I’d be getting a meatier response.

On June 17, 2024, the ACLU of New Jersey responded with the following:

Dear Mr. Petrolino:

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your request for assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and to thank you for bringing this issue to our attention.

Please understand that the ACLU-NJ does not represent you at this time, nor are we making any commitment to future representation.

You should also know that the ACLU-NJ is a private, non-profit organization with limited resources that relies almost exclusively on donations from the general public for its support. We therefore must be very selective in choosing our cases, usually seeking those that will establish new principles of law or benefit the greatest number of people. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to provide representation for every meritorious complaint that we receive.

Thank you for contacting the ACLU and for your commitment to civil liberties.


The Intake Department

That response is akin to, “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” I certainly wasn’t seeking any legal representation for myself, so why are they putting me down so gently? I don’t know. I get it, it’s a form response and what I had to say apparently did not interest their gatekeepers enough to have them reach out to me.


It appears that the ACLU is more than fine with Black people being discriminated against in New Jersey. Ya know, because it’s a gun thing. This all but proves that even the most staunch supporters of “everyone's” rights are still OK with “those people” not being armed.

I’m not surprised by this but I am a little disappointed. It’s sad enough that Attorney General Platkin is still enforcing both an illegal law and one that’s being disproportionately used against Black people, but to be written off by the ACLU with a “thanks for playing” response is just insulting.

So far none of the groups or individuals I reached out to, with the ACLU on record, are interested in the racial bias that’s proliferating in the N.J. permitting system.

  • Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, no response.

  • Dr. Cornel West, prominent Black N.J. academic, professor, and candidate running for president, no response/auto response.

  • Black Lives Matter, no response.

  • The NAACP, no response.

  • The entire N.J. legislative body, one response that went nowhere.

  • N.J. Governor Phil Murphy’s office – three times via email and once via U.S. Post, no response.

  • The N.J. Attorney General Matthew Platkin, multiple times, “declines to comment.”

  • Senator Cory Booker, auto reply.

The list of officials, legislators, executives, and civil rights organizations/leaders who are aware of these egregious findings and are apparently okay with them is growing. What’s it going to take for one group or person of moral fiber to stand up and challenge this? We’ll have to wait to see if any such amount of integrity exists within these people or groups.


We’ll keep covering the topic of permit-to-carry application process abuses in the state of New Jersey. Sadly, this is news, and there seems to be plenty of it.

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